Senior Program Associate
Elizabeth Ayala is a passionate community advocate and nonprofit professional dedicated to developing authentic and powerful grassroots leaders. As program associate for the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI), she focuses on the WPI-County fellowship program.
Elizabeth worked as a professional community organizer for the faith-based grassroots network PICO National Network with its affiliate, Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) in Riverside, California. During her time at ICUC, she helped change DUI checkpoint policies at the city level, mitigating the negative economic impact on Latino immigrant neighborhoods and she helped over 500 families modify their mortgages in a series of nonprofit multi-agency workshops during the worst part of the recession. She and other grassroots leaders were part of the successful lobby efforts to pass multiple laws that improved the lives of low-income families, including AB 1389, which saved Riverside residents hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding costly towing and impounds of family vehicles.
After PICO National, Elizabeth was a coordinator for an innovative bilingual English/Spanish civic engagement project for El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center, a multicultural health promotion and education agency in San Bernardino, California. Elizabeth was a founding board member and eventually served as chair of the Riverside Food Cooperative, a non-profit business that aims to open a consumer-owned grocery store that supports local agriculture and spurs economic growth in Riverside. She has been an adult mentor for the Child Leader Project (CLP) since 2012 and is currently its “Presidenta.” As Presidenta, she leads CLP efforts to provide safe spaces for youth to grow and learn about social justice issues and sponsors the multicultural Arlanza Community Garden. She is a community organizer for Time For Change Foundation, which works with homeless women and children.
Elizabeth holds a BA with honors in international relations from Stanford University. At Stanford she conducted international field research in El Salvador and wrote her thesis on the impact of migrant monetary remittances on Salvadoran household economic decisions. She received the Center for Teaching & Learning’s Best Thesis Presentation award. Elizabeth was born in Corona, California and was raised by hardworking immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador. Elizabeth lives in the city of Riverside where she enjoys singing and telling stories for fundraisers across the Inland Empire region of Southern California.